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Shimmering in the Fire

Exodus 39:32-33
Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was finished, and the people of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did. Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses, the tent and all its utensils, its hooks, its frames, its bars, its pillars, and its bases.

For the last thirty-four chapters Moses has been the one delivering divine gifts to the people. Everything from miraculous signs to Red Sea escapes to covenantal laws to streams of water from a rock to judicial systems; but now it’s their turn to return the favor. Effectively, God has allowed Moses to sit this one out thus far. I’m sure Moses has overseen the process; I’m sure he’s offered words of affirmation to the diligent women serving at the tent and given enthusiastic approval to the hardworking men abiding by Bezalel’s orders; but he hasn’t yet stretched out his miracle staff to complete the work himself. In fact, God is doing a far more difficult sort of miracle here than those signs He performed in Egypt. Getting winds and waves to obey is nowhere near as mighty as getting thousands of free-spirited, free-willed people to obey and work together in harmony. In effect, this is Moses’ chance to sit back, rest his shepherd’s staff for a bit, and just watch God perform wonders.

By the way, don’t forget that only a few chapters ago, Moses was shattering testimonial stones in a fit of rage, believing that the Lord would bring an end to all these stiff-necked people for good. I don’t think Moses has a low view in his mind of God’s lovingkindness, but he has very immediate and impressive view of God’s holiness; so you won’t find him strutting around the wilderness like a modern American pastor with ‘Grace Alone’ tattooed on his forearm. The parable of a father running out the door to embrace his prodigal son with weeping eyes and forgiving arms hasn’t occurred to him yet. Which is why I believe that even if he expects the people to obey wholeheartedly, the sight of them doing so still takes him by surprise.

For many, Sinai has been a smoldering furnace—an all-consuming fire—but for these faithful workers, it’s been a refining one. And behold! They’re coming forth as gold!